NSF Fellow studies acute social stress
Even before arriving at Binghamton University last fall, Katherine Frost began work on her doctoral research into schizophrenia. There’s already general agreement that anhedonia — an inability to experience pleasure — is an important part of schizophrenia, and that anhedonia may result from a breakdown in the brain’s reward system. Frost hypothesizes that increased social stress may contribute to that breakdown. If she’s right, her work could lead to a new model for a range of mental illnesses.
“The implications are profound,” says Assistant Professor Greg Strauss, who directs the university’s Translational Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, where Frost is pursuing her dissertation. “We’re basically stuck in terms of the treatment of anhedonia, largely because the underlying cognitive and neural basis is unknown. This is a novel framework for testing the effects of stress on the brain’s reward system, one we haven’t studied before, and Katherine has a rare combination of drive and intelligence to see it through.”